LOSING SOMEONE

LOSING SOMEONE FOREVER – MAKES NO DIFFERENCE IF IT IS BY DEATH OR DIVORCE – IS A HEART RENDING EXPERIENCE.  THE HURT IS ALWAYS THERE.  I think it was in 1935 when a Rabbi by the name of Harold Kushner wrote his book.  For many years, I misunderstood the title.   I thought it was “WHY Bad Things Happen To Good People.”  The correct title is “WHEN Bad Things Happen To Good People.”

Too often we misunderstand what God’s role is in the grand scheme of human existence.  There is nothing in the Bible (with proper understanding) that promises absolute, 100% camouflage in all circumstances. Jesus, God in the flesh said, “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”

Matthew 5:45 (niv)

Cherry picking a verse of the Bible here and there without context may leave the impression that good people will never have problems; never suffer.  Even Jesus suffered.  The Apostle Peter was crucified upside down.  Saint Paul suffered as few have and St. John was banned to the Island of Patmos.  Please carefully read the following :

“People who do what is right may have many problems, but the LORD will solve them all.”

Psalms 34:19 (ncv)

It may be that, as Elkhart Tolle wrote in A NEW EARTH:

“SUFFERING has a noble purpose: the evolution of consciousness and the burning up of the ego.”

“These are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word.”

Isaiah 66:2 (niv)

“So don’t worry, because I am with you. Don’t be afraid, because I am your God. I will make you strong and will help you; I will support you with my right hand that saves you.”

Isaiah 41:10 (ncv)

THROUGH FAITH THERE IS PEACE AND STRENGTH IN THE MIDST OF DESPAIR!

Where is your faith?  It may help to read Hebrews 11 again.

SCARED MELANCHOLY

SCRIPTURE

A CHRISTIAN LADY SAID, “WOW! WHAT WAS THAT? All of a sudden for no rhyme or reason, a distressed feeling came over me; a despondent, disconsolate, doleful feeling of fright and dejection, an awful down in the dumps feeling.”

Is she needing professional counseling?  Did this strange feeling of scared melancholy arise out of physical distress, maybe mental, emotional suffering?  Is there no one to help her?  I care, but I was a pastor of a church. Is there anyone out there to care?  It still begs an answer to her why!

Is it a learned helplessness in her part?

Psychology Today magazine quotes Thomas Plante: “The American Psychological Association’s yearly Stress in America study found that stress levels have never been higher, with most people pointing to the state of our national politics being the cause of their stress; it ranked higher than personal work and family troubles.  Extreme divisiveness, incivility, verbal aggression, and so forth seem to get worse by the day.  Worries about the future of our nation and society is on the minds of all. While anxiety and stress is commonplace, perhaps despondency is now setting in.”

Continuing Plante’s thoughts, he suggests a few things:

•Connect with others of like mind and do something, anything, for positive change.

•Embrace the notion that you can work to change what you can control and accept what you just can’t control.

•Reflect upon and evaluate your own values and ethical principles carefully and be sure to express them in civil ways to others.

•Minimize media exposure and inflammatory news that tends to escalate problems and worries.

•Be sure to spend time in relaxing activities such as being in nature, getting away from computer and smart phone screens, and engaging in healthy activities such as exercise and spending time with friends. [And stay away from Facebook!]

•Engage in satisfying service and volunteer activities where you feel that you might be able to make a difference in the lives of others.

•If you are spiritually or religiously engaged, increase your involvement with your spiritual/religious tradition and community.

•Get professional help if your stress doesn’t get better.  You can start with the Help Center at the American Psychological Association if you aren’t sure what direction to go to get assistance.

So, what do you think? What can you do to cope?

(Copyright 2018, Thomas G. Plante, PhD)

It is interesting that Plante suggests engaging with your spiritual community. The Psalmist encourages God’s people –

“Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul? Why are you crying the blues? Fix my eyes on God – soon I’ll be praising again. He puts a smile on my face. He’s my God!

“I took my troubles to the Lord; I cried out to him, and he answered my prayer.”

Psalms 120:1 (nlt)

“The Lord keeps you from all harm and watches over your life. The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever.”

Psalms 121:7-8 (nlt)  🎼🎶🎹

“Let not your heart be troubled,” His tender word I hear,

And resting on His goodness, I lose my doubts and fears;

Though by the path He leadeth, but one step I may see;

His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;

His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

(Charles Gabriel)

BELIEVING

BELIEVING THE FACTS ABOUT JESUS IS THE BEGINNING:

•That he was a historical figure

•That he actually lived

•That he died on the cross

•That he paid the penalty

•That he is God clothed in human

flesh

•That he exists somewhere today

Under the windows of a modern stucco house is something called a check throat. It is there, ostensibly, to prevent water from hitting the wall under the window, but usually for decorative purposes.  It looks strong and stable.  On newer homes it is made of foam with stucco plastered on it.  It has the appearance of a wooden 4X6.

In reality it is foam covered with stucco for appearances.

In many concerts today, the singer/entertainer is only lip-syncing the songs. The music is recorded somewhere backstage.

What does it mean to believe in Jesus Christ?

•First of all, He doesn’t talk to the back of your head

•Make the effort to turn around by saying, “I have sinned!”

•Talk to him and offer yourself to him by saying, “Lord, I may not understand it all, but here I am.”

•“Come into my heart and life, and take control.”

•“I believe you forgive me.”

HE WILL!  You are a newborn baby. Continue to walk in the light.

“If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin.”

1 John 1:7 (kjv)

RIGHT BUT OVERWHELMED!

YOU CAN BE DOING THE RIGHT THING, BUT STILL BE OVERWHELMED IN THE MIDST OF YOUR STORM!

I had a church member back in the early 1960’s who had a bomb shelter.  It cost him a lot of money; money he could have used to better his life. He thought he was doing the right thing, but he WASTED TIME AND MONEY ON HIS FEAR!

Many of us, if not most, have some kind of fear; fear of spiders, animals (dogs, cats), elevators, etc.  This is the human condition.

Back in the day, the disciples of Jesus were out on the lake when a huge storm arose. (The first thing to remember about this story is that Jesus wasn’t with them.) When they were near death, they saw something or someone coming near them walking on the water.

“In their fear, they cried out, ‘It’s a ghost!’”

Matthew 14:26 (nlt)

“But straightway Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘Be of good cheer; it is I; BE NOT AFRAID.’ [Peter got the bright idea to walk on water, too.]

“But when [Peter] saw the boisterous wind, HE WAS AFRAID; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, ‘Lord, save me.’  And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, ‘O thou of little faith, why did you doubt?’ And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased. Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, ‘Of a truth THOU ART THE SON OF GOD.’”

Matthew 14:27, 30-33 (kjv)

“HE WILL keep you in perfect peace as your mind is FIXED ON him: because you TRUST IN him.”

Isaiah 26:3 (kjv-paraphrase)

NEW AGEISM AND CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY

THE HILL, an online news group, HAS AN ARTICLE OF NOVEMBER 1, 2018, about the growing popularity of “New Age” beliefs.  The elites through the media have now given this belief system legitimacy by calling it a group, a precursor to a Church with its theological authority.   Disturbingly, the Pew Research Center poll “found 62 percent of Americans hold New Age beliefs, such as astrology and the presence of spiritual energy in trees or mountains.”  The Pew poll “found that those who identify as Christian were more likely than atheists and agnostics to hold at least one New Age belief.”

Some of my friends and associates have teased me about how I rail against some of todays Church services replete with acid rock bands, dancing across the stage, no amens and hallelujahs (only a nice little clap as in a broadway show), no basic theology, no creed, in some cases no Bible; just feel good stuff!   With the main attraction being a “Johnny Carson-Jay Leno-Jimmy Fallon-Conan O’Brien” standup comic to entertain the happy-happy crowd, as long as they are entertained  why preach & teach apologetics and basic Christian theology?

In the Old Testament Judges 21:25, “ … every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” In other words, there was no cohesive, basic belief system. They didn’t follow the Mosaic Law ordained by God Himself.

One of the worst teachings today, [in my humble opinion] is the push for prosperity and positivity!  “Send me your seed money” is one of the most recognizable.  You’ll be healthy, wealthy and wise, they say.  Another is the little cherub-angel thingies – “isn’t it so cute!”  How ‘bout Yoga!  Much of what we hear in church today is a biblically based “Tony Robbins” show.  Make sure absolutely nothing is said from the pulpit about sin, repentance, confession, the cross or the redeeming blood of JESUS CHRIST.

Here is genuine Christian THEOLOGY:

“Going through a long line of prophets, God has been addressing our ancestors in different ways for centuries. Recently he spoke to us directly through his Son. By his Son, God created the world in the beginning, and it will all belong to the Son at the end. This Son perfectly mirrors God, and is stamped with God’s nature. He holds everything together by what he says—powerful words!”

Hebrews 1:1-6 (msg)

“In the beginning the Word [Christ Jesus] already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God.”

John 1:1-2 (nlt)

“God makes people right with himself through their faith in Jesus Christ. This is true for all who believe in Christ, because all people are the same: Everyone has sinned and fallen short of God’s glorious standard, and all need to be made right with God by his grace, which is a free gift. They need to be made free from sin through Jesus Christ.”

Romans 3:22-24 (ncv)

“Jesus answered, “Be careful that no one fools you. Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will fool many people. You will hear about wars and stories of wars that are coming, but don’t be afraid. These things must happen before the end comes. Nations will fight against other nations; kingdoms will fight against other kingdoms. There will be times when there is no food for people to eat, and there will be earthquakes in different places. These things are like the first pains when something new is about to be born. “Then people will arrest you, hand you over to be hurt, and kill you. They will hate you because you believe in me. At that time, many will lose their faith, and they will turn against each other and hate each other. Many false prophets will come and cause many people to believe lies. There will be more and more evil in the world, so most people will stop showing their love for each other. But those people who keep their faith until the end will be saved. The Good News about God’s kingdom will be preached in all the world, to every nation. Then the end will come.

“False Christs and false prophets will come and perform great wonders and miracles. They will try to fool even the people God has chosen, if that is possible.”

Matthew 24:4-14, 24 (ncv)

“We, of course, have plenty of wisdom to pass on to you once you get your feet on firm spiritual ground, but it’s not popular wisdom, the fashionable wisdom of high-priced experts that will be out-of-date in a year or so. God’s wisdom is something mysterious that goes deep into the interior of his purposes. You don’t find it lying around on the surface. It’s not the latest message, but more like the oldest—what God determined as the way to bring out his best in us, long before we ever arrived on the scene. The experts of our day haven’t a clue about what this eternal plan is. If they had, they wouldn’t have killed the Master of the God-designed life on a cross. That’s why we have this Scripture text: No one’s ever seen or heard anything like this, Never so much as imagined anything quite like it— What God has arranged for those who love him. But you’ve seen and heard it because God by his Spirit has brought it all out into the open before you.

We, of course, have plenty of wisdom to pass on to you once you get your feet on firm spiritual ground, but it’s not popular wisdom, the fashionable wisdom of high-priced experts that will be out-of-date in a year or so. God’s wisdom is something mysterious that goes deep into the interior of his purposes. You don’t find it lying around on the surface. It’s not the latest message, but more like the oldest—what God determined as the way to bring out his best in us, long before we ever arrived on the scene. The experts of our day haven’t a clue about what this eternal plan is. If they had, they wouldn’t have killed the Master of the God-designed life on a cross. That’s why we have this Scripture text: No one’s ever seen or heard anything like this, Never so much as imagined anything quite like it— What God has arranged for those who love him. But you’ve seen and heard it because God by his Spirit has brought it all out into the open before you. The Spirit, not content to flit around on the surface, dives into the depths of God, and brings out what God planned all along. Who ever knows what you’re thinking and planning except you yourself? The same with God—except that he not only knows what he’s thinking, but he lets us in on it. God offers a full report on the gifts of life and salvation that he is giving us. We don’t have to rely on the world’s guesses and opinions. We didn’t learn this by reading books or going to school; we learned it from God, who taught us person-to-person through Jesus, and we’re passing it on to you in the same firsthand, personal way.”

1 Corinthians 2:6-9 (msg)

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

1 John 1:9 (niv)

“But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’”

1 Peter 1:15-16 (niv)

“The time will come when people will not listen to the true teaching but will find many more teachers who please them by saying the things they want to hear. They will stop listening to the truth and will begin to follow false stories. But you should control yourself at all times, accept troubles, do the work of telling the Good News, and complete all the duties of a servant of God.”

2 Timothy 4:3-5 (ncv)

YOUR GOLIATH!

GOLIATH WAS A GIANT!  The writer of I Samuel details it this way:  “The Philistines had a champion fighter from Gath named Goliath. He was about nine feet, four inches tall. He came out of the Philistine camp with a bronze helmet on his head and a coat of bronze armor that weighed about one hundred twenty-five pounds. He wore bronze protectors on his legs, and he had a bronze spear on his back. The wooden part of his larger spear was like a weaver’s rod, and its blade weighed about fifteen pounds. The officer who carried his shield walked in front of him.”

‭‭1 Samuel‬ ‭17:4-7‬ ‭(ncv)

The army of God was on one hill and the enemy was on another hill with a valley in between. For 40 days Goliath came out in the open and cursed God and ridiculed the Israeli army. The entire army of Israel was intimidated and scared.

ENTER DAVID!  A kid, maybe still in his teens.  A slingshot and 5 little rock’s; oh, and El Shaddai the Great God Almighty who can!  His brothers were embarrassed that he showed up and tried to get him to leave. David’s answer was, “What have I now done? Is there not a cause?”
‭‭1 Samuel 17:29 (kjv)

Goliath came out again cursing, making fun of David, but “David replied to the Philistine, “You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies—… whom you have defied.”
‭‭1 Samuel‬ ‭17:45‬ ‭(nlt)

WHAM AND SHAZZAM!  Goliath became a crumbling piece of lifeless human flesh.

So I have a question for you: Are you facing a Goliath in your life?  It may be financial, health, emotional, marriage, children, addiction, spiritual.  Maybe you’re scared. God has a “David” waiting for you!

“Listen to the Lord who created you,  .… The one who formed you says, “DO NOT BE AFRAID, FOR I HAVE RANSOMED YOU!   I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” ‭Isaiah‬ ‭43:1-3‬ ‭(nlt)

PRAYER

“I am praying to you because I know you will answer, O God. Bend down and listen as I pray. Show me your unfailing love in wonderful ways. By your mighty power you rescue those who seek refuge from their enemies. Guard me as you would guard your own eyes. Hide me in the shadow of your wings.”

Psalms 17:6-8 (nlt)

MAMA AND DADDY DIDN’T SPEND TIME WITH EACH OTHER ALL THE TIME.  Maybe that’s why we had a happy home. Both of them spent time alone … and with the Lord.

Early, early in the morning, Daddy could be found in his big chair with his Bible and a pen. Then he would get up and turn around.  Kneeling before God, heaven came down and glory filled his soul.

Mama was a rather quiet, sweet lady. She would “sneak” into the front bedroom; the one with the plastic on the love seat and bed (no one ever went in there but Mama).  Oh how she prayed; just she and the Lord. God talked to her and answered her prayers.

🎼🎶🎹

“There is a place of quiet rest,

near to the heart of God,

a place where sin cannot molest,

near to the heart of God.

“O Jesus, blest Redeemer,

sent from the heart of God,

hold us, who wait before thee,

near to the heart of God.”

(Cleland Boyd McAfee)

BROKEN

I CAME CLOSE TO GIVING UP!

Time and again I cried out to God. Satan crushed me into the dirt, but God said to me, “This isn’t the end.  My grace is sufficient.”  But I persisted by singing,

🎼🎶🎹

“Precious Lord, take my hand

Lead me on, let me stand

I’m tired, I’m weak, I’m lone

Through the storm, through the night

Lead me on to the light

Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home.”

(Thomas A. Dorsey)

“Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me, My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness. Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.”

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (msg)

The best thing that ever happened to me was when God allowed me to be broken.

🎼🎶🎹

“When I am swept by the tempests of life,

Jesus is all I need.

Peace He imparts, whatsoever the strife.

Jesus is all I need.

“All that I need He will always be,

All that I need till His face I see,

All that I need thro’ eternity.

Jesus is all I need.”

(James Rowe)

OUT THERE/IN HERE

JUST SUPPOSE THAT THERE ARE POWERFUL ALIENS OUT THERE looking at us – maybe walking among us.

JUST SUPPOSE they are watching to see how we conduct ourselves; watching to see if we respect eternal principles of the universe.

JUST SUPPOSE those who live by those powerful principles will someday be transported to a place in the universe where they will live in eternal luxury enjoying blissful joy forever and ever.

JUST SUPPOSE that those who in their bitter hate and skepticism will be transported to a place of eternal stench and filth living with the smell of death forever and ever.

THE ETERNAL GOD OF THE UNIVERSE has it all planned out.  NO ALIENS!  Since people are more likely to believe in aliens and act stupidly, selfish and sinful, God clothed himself in human flesh, paid the price with his justifying blood and for those who believe in him he said,

“There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.”

John 14:2-3 (nlt)

“When my way grows drear, precious Lord linger near

When my light is almost gone

Hear my cry, hear my call

Hold my hand lest I fall

Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home.”